As we wait for Christmas, I thought I’d take four weeks here to take a wide-angle look at each of the Gospels, the four stories of Jesus’ life from the New Testament. This week we’ll get into John. (You can read my take on Mark here. Matthew is here. Luke is here.)
As similar as Matthew, Mark, and Luke are, John is at least that different. He has a temple cleansing, but it’s at that beginning of his Gospel and not in the last week of Jesus’ life. (Was there only one cleansing, that John moves for his own reasons — or Matthew, Mark, and Luke all move for their own? Or were there two?) Was Jesus crucified on the Day of Preparation for the Passover — Friday — as John says? Or on Thursday of Passion week, as the other evangelists indicate? John — along with Mark — doesn’t include a nativity story. Jesus is the preexistent Word that was with God and was God “in the beginning” (1:1-2). He was the agent of creation (1:3) and is still the source of light and life for human beings (1:4-5). Jesus’ existence is explained by saying this Word was “made flesh and lived among us,” allowing us to see his glory (1:14). Jesus’ mother is only mentioned three times, and never by name. John alone, however, includes the story of Jesus providing for his mother’s care while on the cross (19:25-27). John contains no parables, no account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper (replacing it with the washing of the apostles’ feet), and no references to the Kingdom of God.